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Wednesday, November 12, 2003
ISAAC : GOD’S ORIGINAL MIRACLE CHILD & ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
On this week's Torah Portion: VaYera
Shalom to you!
I hope all goes well at your end. I have written this essay MYSELF based on this week's Sedra of the week from the Torah. Hope you find it of some interest.
ISAAC : GOD’S ORIGINAL MIRACLE CHILD & ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
For Parshat VaYera : “And (God) appeared (to Abraham)…” to be read in synagogue on Saturday, this Shabbat 15 November, ’03.
Does this sound familiar to you? :
1 -->Three wise men appear to a suffering couple, bearing good tidings and spiritual gifts, as a star shines bright.
2 -->A prediction by God that a special child will be born to a Jewish family in ancient Israel.
3-->God chooses this one special family that will welcome this child into this world.
4 -->A miraculous birth.
5-->The dawn of a new age as a result of this birth.
6-->A plea that the wicked should be forgiven for their sins since they know not how bad it is what they do.
7->The grown child is asked to give up its life.
8->It will be equal to the offering of a consecrated animal.
9->The willingness to sacrifice that special life so that multitudes will one day be forgiven and granted life.
10->A revival from death takes place.
11->The mother grieves bitterly for what transpires.
12->God tests Man’s belief in Divine Mercy.
13->A new dimension of Godliness is revealed.
14->A new and lasting religion is established through the new life of the special son.
15->God will always look at the sacrifice and consider it as an atonement for the sins of later generations
16->It will serve as a serious alternative to sacrificial animal offerings in the Jewish Temples.
17->The entire saga is recorded in a Holy Book and it is a central part of the new religion.
18->This amazing story becomes connected to the main message of a major religious holiday observed till this day.
19->Religious rituals are created so that it can be recalled and relived.
20->Without this information you cannot understand the religion it helps establish.
21->It is expected that you believe in the truth and accuracy of all this at the risk of denying your own religion or worse.
If you thought all along that I was referring to Christianity and its founding you are MISTAKEN, because it is the story of Abraham his wife Sarah and their son Isaac (Yitzchak), and it is to be found in this week’s Torah portion of VaYera, in Genesis (Bereishis) Chapters 18 to 22. Read it for yourself (with a few classic commentaries if you can) and you will know of how Isaac was prepared to offer his life and be burned to ashes on an alter, a kind of God-induced, self-directed “burning at the stake”, of all things!
The idea of a miracle birth is well known about Christianity. What is not so well known or understood is that the basic idea was, one might say, “plagiarized” or “borrowed”, from a much earlier episode in the Torah in the lives of Abraham and his son Isaac (Yitzchak) more than 1,500 years BCE (Before the Common – Christian- Era)!
And for very good reasons, because this cycle of “birth-death-reincarnation-triumph of the Spirit” is one of the most powerful, moving, cataclysmic, and “burning” ideas known to humankind and will always reach the minds, hearts, and souls of most people. Billions and billions of them.
Lets review some of the above points and see how they apply to Judaism’s Isaac and how obvious it is that this is the source for the religion of Christianity which “took it over” and used it for its own purposes. You will see that Christianity’s claims are neither new nor unique and it is too bad that people are not aware of the story, the PRIMARY SOURCE as it was originally meant to be understood. It remains in Genesis, and classical Torah Judaism still believes in to this day with all its heart!
Ok, here we go… Let’s examine points 1 to 7, aaaaand, not to make this essaaaaay tooooo loooong, we’ll have to cooooome baaaaack for the remainder laaaaater…J
1--> “Three Wise Men”:
In Genesis 18 we are told how Abraham was sitting in front of his tent, and the SUN, our nearest star, was burning bright, when three mysterious strangers appear out of the desert haze. He hosts them and they pronounce several blessings, including: “I will return to you this time next year, said (one of the men), and your wife Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis18,v.10).
They are not ordinary men, as rabbinic commentators say they were three archangels. The angel Michael spoke; flanked by Gabriel and Rafael. [*1]
Truly God’s most venerable emissaries coming with joyous tidings!
2--> “Special Child Coming”:
God predicted in the Torah beforehand that a very special precious child would be born to Abraham and Sarah. “God said, ‘Still your wife Sarah will give birth to a son. You must name him Isaac. I will keep My covenant with him as an eternal treaty, for his descendents after him’.” (Genesis 17, v. 19). Or, “Is there anything too difficult for God? At the designated time I will return, and Sarah will have a son”. (Genesis 18, v.14)
3--> “A Special Family”:
“…God appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty… I will make a covenant between Me and you, and I will increase your numbers …Your name shall become Abraham,…I will increase your numbers…and I will make you into nations – kings will be your descendents…I will be a God to you and to your offspring after you. To you and your offspring I will give the land where you are now living as a foreigner. The whole land of Canaan shall be your eternal heritage, and I will be a God to your descendents…Sarai your wife – do not call her by the name Sarai, for Sarah is her name. I will bless her, and make her bear you a son…she will be the mother of entire nations – kings will be her descendents.”
(Genesis 17, vs.1-15)
Their name change mandated by God are signs of their CONVERSION to the true faith of MONOTHEISM. They have become partners with God destined to change the history of the world and the fate of the Universe, and all the Celestial Spheres.
4--> “Miraculous Birth”:
“Abraham …laughed. He said to himself, ‘Can a hundred year old man have children? Can Sarah, who is ninety, give birth?’…God said, ‘Still, your wife Sarah will give birth to a son. You must name him Isaac.” (Genesis 17, v.17). [Ed.: In Hebrew, Isaac is Yitzchak which is derived from the root “TO LAUGH”].
“Abraham and Sarah were already old, well on in years, and Sarah no longer had `female periods`. She laughed to herself, saying, ‘Now that I am worn out, shall I have my heart’s desire? My husband is old.’…God said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh…’…Is anything too difficult for God? At the designated time, I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18, vs. 13-14)…
“God granted special providence to Sarah as He said He would, and God did what He promised for Sarah.
Sarah became pregnant, and she gave birth to Abraham’s son in his old age…Abraham gave the name Isaac.
When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded.
Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born.
Sara said, ‘God has given me LAUGHTER. All he hear about it will LAUGH for me.’
She said, ‘Who would have even suggested to Abraham that Sarah would be nursing children? But here I have given birth to a son in his old age’.” (Genesis 21, vs. 1-7)
5--> “New Era”:
The arrival of Isaac is considered to be the onset of the fateful exile of the Children of Israel in Egypt and their dramatic EXODUS. This will be the blue-print and proto-type of all subsequent exiles and events that will befall the Jewish People until the present time.
Earlier: “God said to Abram, ‘Know for sure that your descendents will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs for 400 years. They will be enslaved and oppressed. But I will finally bring judgment against the nation who enslaves them, and they will then leave with great wealth’.” (Genesis 15, vs. 13-14).
The duration of the Exodus is later reported as: “The lifestyles that the Israelites endured in Egypt had thus lasted 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, all of God’s armies left Egypt in broad daylight.” (Exodus 12, vs. 40-42). There is discussion among the sages that since the 400 years were counted from Isaac’s birth, and Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old, the 430 years had to have started earlier. Nevertheless most maintain that 400 years elapsed between Isaac’s birth and the Exodus, because since Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, and Jacob was 130 when he came to Egypt the total number of years the Israelites were in Egypt was actually 210. [*2]
The Jewish sages say that the ultimate redemption in the end of days will not only parallel the first Egyptian Exile and Exodus, it will be far greater in scale, as it will be a sweeping global event that will include all humankind in one way or another.
6--> “Forgive Them…”:
Of the three visitors that came to visit Abraham, after informing Abraham that he would have a son Isaac, the angel Michael departed. The arch-angels Gabriel (denoting God’s Power) and Rafael ( the Healing angel) , doing their Master’s bidding, move on to test the morals, and tragically destroy, the wicked cities of Sodom and Amora.
The angelic visitors are the two “guests” that Lot (Abraham’s nephew who had settled among the evil people of Sodom), tries to “rescue” from attempted homosexual gang rape in Sodom (hence the word “sodomy”) by the incensed Sodomites.
But it was Abraham who pleaded with God not to destroy the entire cities because maybe there were a few who were righteous and their merits should outweigh the evil. Abraham utters one of the profoundest requests of God “…Will You actually wipe out the innocent together with the guilty…to kill the innocent with the guilty, letting righteous and the wicked fare alike…Shall the whole world’s Judge not act justly?” (Genesis 18, vs. 23-25).
And indeed there is one righteous family that is saved in the midst of the holocaust that rained down on Sodom, it is the family of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. The arch-angel Rafael, with the power to Heal, saves Lot and his family from the midst of Sodom’s downfall. Lot is forgiven.
He will have his life , and that of his two daughters with him. [*3]
7--> “Self Martyrdom”:
There is a misconception that Isaac was a “lad” when God calls on Abraham to offer him up as a sacrificial offering. This is a mistake.
It says, “When Isaac was 40 years old, he married Rebecca…” (Genesis 25, v.20). The great rabbinic commentator RASHI (Rabbi Solomon ben Yitzchak) who lived in the 1040-1105 (“AD” aka “CE” = “Common Era”), calculates that when Isaac and Abraham returned from the ultimate test that God put them through, “…Isaac was 37 years old, because at this time Sarah died at 127 years…when she was 90 she gave birth to Isaac, and she died at 127 as stated in Genesis 23, v. 1, …thus Isaac was 37 years old…” [*4]
God’s put Abraham and Isaac to the ultimate TEST as mature ADULTS: Practicing the HUMAN SACRIFICE of your own special unique SON, first in Abraham’s union with Sarah.
God asks that His own Promised son To Abraham and Sarah surrender his life because it is God’s will and decree! :
“…God tested Abraham: ‘Abraham…take your son, the only one you love, Isaac, and go to the land Moriah. Bring him as an all-burned (“OLAH” in Hebrew) offering (sacrifice) on one of the mountains’
…Isaac spoke to Abraham: ‘Father…here is the fire and the wood. BUT WHERE IS THE LAMB FOR THE OFFERING?’
And Abraham said: ‘GOD WILL SEE TO A LAMB FOR THE OFFERING, MY SON’
…He bound his son Isaac, and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. ABRAHAM REACHED OUT AND TOOK THE SLAUGHTER KNIFE TO SLIT HIS SON’S THROAT.”
At that split second God’s angel is heard: Do not harm! Do not do anything!
Instead, Abraham: “...went and got the ram, sacrificing it as an all burned offering in his son’s place”( Genesis 22, vs. 1-19).
The deeper teachings of Judaism consider the entire process as one fait accompli continuum:
Since God commands the slaughter of Isaac, and Abraham obeys, but is suddenly halted at the last instant, and then a mysterious surprise ram appears and is offered up as the slaughtered sacrifice, it is thus considered as Isaac having had himself undergone this process. Isaac the lamb is at one with the offered ram. So therefore, the ashes of the burned ram are considered as the equivalent ashes of Isaac because in essence he unquestioningly surrendered himself to God’s inscrutable desire and command demanding Isaac’s life.
Look carefully at the following quotation:
“Rabbi Judah said: ‘Isaac purified himself and in intention offered himself up to God, was at that time ETHERIALIZED and, as it were ,
HE ASCENDED TO THE THRONE OF GOD like the odour of the incense spices which the priests offered before Him twice a day; AND SO THE SACRFICE WAS COMPLETE.”[*5]
But at this point I have actually reached :
So I hope to complete this composition sometime soon… J
To be continued…
Have a peaceful Sabbath and then hopefully you can find the time to relax and contemplate the rewards of life!
[*1] ‘The Medrash Says’, Beraishis, p.160, based on Beraishis Rabbah 48, par. 9.
[*2] Notes by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in the name of: Hirsch; Mechilta; Megillah9a; Seder Olam; Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer 48;Josephus. In ‘The Living Torah’, pp.314-315.
[*3]’The Medrash Says”, Beraishis, p.165.
[*4] RASHI commentary, Genesis 25, v. 20.
[*5] ‘The Zohar’ on Genesis. The Soncino Press, English translation, (Volume I), 120a-b, p.375.
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